Politics of Respectability

About the politics of respectability, and how having an education and other successes in life clouds our other, more taboo, experiences, despite their worthiness and depth in our lives:

The Erasure of Maya Angelou’s Sex Work History

Or, how the politics of respectability makes our collective experiences look crazy, strange, or shameful:

Stripper with a PhD

The politics of respectability are those that I have tried countless times to discuss on here in relation to my own struggle as both a lover of school and education and desire to work in the mainstream, and a lover of the strip club stage. How can I be both? Perhaps I am neither? Am I a feminist? Or not? Perhaps both? Am I a slut? How complex can I be and still be accepted? How complex can I be and still love myself? Can I respect myself and be everything that I am? Will others respect be despite, and hopefully because of, everything I am?

Hump Day Links

What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure? (Sorry the ending is so cheesy everyone)

Five Lessons From Poly Relationships That Everyone Can Benefit From

This Is What The Female Orgasm Really Feels Like

To give you an idea of the lack of sex-positivity of the community I grew up in: Bikini coffee shop agrees to change drink names

She’s not ugly in my opinion, and her body is amazing. Inspiring me to practice my head and handstands: 10+ Reasons I Love My Ugly Body

And this gem that was posted in my Open FB group:



I feel a little late to the feminist table: why hadn’t I come across the word “kyriarchy” before? I don’t know, but now I have. This post does a good job of explaining the difference between kyriarchy and patriarchy. It may seem simply like semantics, but I think the difference in definitions is important to understand.

Kyriarchy is about examining all systems of oppression and privilege, and not just the system of patriarchy and the power that men hold over women. I love this piece from post I linked to:

“Kyriarchy is more descriptive of the approach I try to take to feminism. The word considers all parts of the oppressive structure we live in evenly – no one oppression is worse or better or more important than another. We are all subject to kyriarchy, and we all benefit from kyriarchy; we all share the burden and the blame in different measures and proportions.”

And, she goes on to quote a scholar, who mentions:

“When people talk about patriarchy and then it divulges into a complex conversation about the shifting circles of privilege, power, and domination — they’re talking about kyriarchy.  When you talk about power assertion of a White woman over a Brown man, that’s kyriarchy.  When you talk about a Black man dominating a Brown womyn, that’s kyriarchy.  It’s about the human tendency for everyone trying to take the role of lord/master within a pyramid.  At it best heights, studying kyriarchy displays that it’s more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they’re not the ones I find most dangerous. There’s a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.”

Does that make sense? We all embody varying degrees of privileged and marginalized identities, and how we experience privilege and oppression changes depending on context. I’ve understood this phenomenon to be true, but I just never knew there was a word to describe it.

I love this concept because it helps, for me, to explain why I can experience oppression and privilege in the system of a strip club, and why I can experience both oppression and privilege walking into an academic setting or my work setting. It helps explain why a strip club customer embodies both oppression privilege. It helps me breathe a sigh of relief because our world is not so neat and tidy as being able to say “sex workers are oppressed people” or “white people are privileged people.” (Yes, I do think that most of the time in most contexts white people hold far more power than people of color- and I’ve never personally experienced a time in my life where I have felt noticeably less powerful than a person of color. But, I do think there are situations and contexts in which the power dynamic shifts).

For example, this post ventures down this path and I appreciate the writer’s analysis of kyriarchy. My beef with her post, though, is her extension into what kyriarchy means for sex workers. She immediately starts talking about workers in trafficking or abusive relationships with pimps, and discounts the experiences of workers who choose their line of work. So, I would agree with her that it is kyriarchical of her to analyze sex workers’ experiences as she does (“But, and maybe this is kyriarchal of me, when people claim that sex workers derive power from their work, it gives me pause.”)

I appreciate this article on The Guardian, and this particular passage:

“Perhaps most importantly, kyriarchy exposes a sin within the women’s movement itself: that of feminist-perpetuated oppression. (I can already hear feminists hissing at me as I type. But don’t worry – I’ll hiss at myself in the mirror later for perpetuating the stereotype of internecine cat-fighting.) When feminist commentators and charities working to “liberate” sex workers relate their tales for them, rather than letting them speak first-hand, that’s kyriarchy. It’s also kyriarchy when minority male feminists are forced to veto voting rights in equality action groups because they are male.

Kyriarchy has the potential to settle the age-old argument about “privileged” feminism once and for all. Perhaps that’s why it’s so frightening to those that balk at the term, and will dismiss this as yet another example of woman-eating-woman. It may feel counterintuitive, but recognising your own privilege doesn’t make the struggle for gender equality any less credible: it makes it more so, by allowing feminists to see that advantages – such as being born to a semi-prosperous family or being well-educated – don’t necessarily protect against, say, rape.”

Reading all of this makes me feel so much better since I have been stewing for the past month or so about the anti-Belle Knox coverage (you can’t be an empowered feminist and a porn star: the Belle Knox brand of feminism is so totally not feminism). It all seems like a bunch of bullshit (and probably because I identify with Belle Knox and think she is rad)- you certainly can be a feminist, recognize the power and privilege you engender as a young and hot woman, profit off that power, and also recognize the oppression that brought you, as a woman, to porn in the first place- and, say that you wouldn’t want to continue in porn forever. I really don’t understand why complicated motivations and identities are so scary to people. This kind of experience doesn’t hurt the feminist movement: it enriches and enlivens it,  allows us to delve into the complexities of our lives, and speak up for minority experiences.

What do you think?


Making Choices: Getting Naked? Stay in School?

Okay, friends, this one is a mess. In large part, because I am a mess.

I was asked by my professor (the one who told me a few months ago that my experience as a stripper could be an ethical issue) to meet with her before winter break. I practiced deep breathing as I walked into her office, still feeling happy from J and I getting married (this meeting happened about an hour after that). As I sat down, I reminded myself to stay calm and collected.


She, as the department chair, along with the other three core faculty and the dean, met at some point during the semester to discuss whether or not my stripping experience is an ethical issue. They filled out some sort of professional evaluation form, and as a group (she maintained), they see my occupation as a serious boundary violation and ethical issue in conflict with the code of ethics for marriage and family therapists. Why? Because of the potential for future clients to have seen me dance, the potential for current clients of mine to see me dance, and the potential for the former clients to see me dance. To her, this constituted a seriously problematic multiple relationship. In addition, for some reason, she sees it as a “conflict of interest” (what? am I going to sell lap dances after a therapy session?). This serious ethical issue was held by her regardless of whether I stop dancing now or not.

I can’t disagree that it would be a multiple relationship to have a concurrent therapist-client and stripper-customer relationship with someone. I also would not do that. I also feel it is paternalistic and arrogant to say that I am responsible for making sure that any potential client of mine never sees me out in public doing something that is not mainstream.

I didn’t go into this program to be a cookie-cutter therapist. I went into it with the explicit goal and intention of serving the queer, kinky, poly, and sex positive community (including sex workers). I’ve been completely open with my cohort and professors about my experiences and motivations, and now the message I receive is: sorry, too much. As my friend said to me today: They are grinding you down.

She said: It’s not about exotic dancing! We want you to dance, we want you to feel empowered and to feel empowered sexually. But this is a serious ethical issue.

Is is possible for me to truly understand the code of ethics and continue to dance? I asked.

No, she replied.

If it was up to me, in my personal opinion, she said, I wouldn’t place you next year [for an internship] if you were still dancing.

Think it over during your winter break, she told me. Then in January, I want to meet with you again. If you agree, then we can move forward. If you disagree that this a serious ethical issue, then we will need to convene an Academic Review Committee and investigate further. You will probably need quite a bit of mentoring to fully understand why this is such a problem. It is possible that the result from the committee process that you won’t be allowed to continue in the program.

I left that half hour meeting boiling. I hardly had a chance to speak, to ask questions, to present my case.

I literally feel stuck. I feel angry, boxed in, aggravated, irritated, helpless, hopeless, disheartened, defeated. Defeated.

Pick my battles, figure out my goals, move forward. Give up stripping? Give up school? I’m sure I’ll be writing about this again when my thoughts are more clear.

And yes, I am writing this from the strip club. (My nice way of saying: Fuck. You.)

Support Your Local Beautiful Losers

I bought this shirt a couple of weeks ago, and it finally arrived yesterday:


A bartender at my club was wearing it, and I instantly fell in love with the design, the sentence structure, the many meanings. It feels provocative and powerful to me, disrupting ideas of patriarchy and slut-shaming in subtle and shifty ways. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Does it refer to the service industry? The young and underemployed? Strippers? Who are the losers?

How do I feel identifying as a “beautiful loser”?

How would this shirt be different without the word “beautiful”: Support your local losers ? Why does being beautiful matter in also being a loser? I have some ideas… Do you?

If you want one, search for Bandit Brand on Etsy and email the owner. She made one for me when I messaged her saying I desperately wanted one!! :)

Taking Names

This is a sweet and thought-provoking article from a man who took his wife’s last name:

I Took My Wife’s Last Name

I appreciate this man’s stance toward making the personal political, and yet remaining true to what he simply wanted: marking the creation of his new family.

J and I were filling out our marriage license tonight (we’re getting closer! we got our prenup notarized today, too!) and trying to decide what we want to do with our names.

I have been sure that I would keep my last name- it’s too good to erase. And I am also adamant that I am not being transferred as property from my father to my husband. But what about taking J’s last name as a middle name? I already have two (one that my parents gave me as a “regular” middle name, the other that my mom wanted to give both my sister and I as a second middle name to commemorate her side of the family. It’s not technically her maiden name, as her stepfather had adopted her when she was young, but is her original last name), and I don’t want three middle names. Do I give up one of my middle names? Which one? I love my first middle name; it’s become a nickname of mine. I also appreciate my second name as it has preserved my mom’s narrative of her strength and perseverance of getting through a tough childhood.

J and I could create a hyphenated last name. But that gets long and arduous for ourselves and others. And like the author in the article, we don’t want to create a law firm. We want to simply mark the creation of our family.

It’s not an automatic option to take one another’s last names as a middle name, but it sounds like it is an option; it simply needs to be approved by court before our names are official. But we are considering it. So I could drop my second middle name and adopt J’s last name as my second middle name. He could drop his middle name and take my last name as his middle name.

Slightly complicated, and expensive to do. Changing our names would require trips to the DMV. And money.

It feels worth it, but also a little annoying.

Regardless, here is to our little fam :)

Breaking Through, Being Out in Politics, & Microaggressions

J and I went to one film from the Portland Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, “Breaking Through,” and it was really fabulous. It was about politicians and public figures who are out. There were a number of gay men and lesbians in the film, as well as one transgender and one bisexual. The point of the film, the filmmaker said, was to inspire hope in LGBTQ people of all ages (but mainly youth) that things can be better. It was inspirational and really well done. I found myself tearing up a number of times at the stories and experiences described. 

It was an important thing for me to attend because I had just gone through the whole day falling apart (which J can attest to). What am I doing? Do I really want to be a therapist? Is this a workable plan? Can I fully be myself and do this as a job? If it’s not this, what do I want to do?

Attending the screening was like the universe’s way of saying: Breathe. Be Yourself. Do What You Want. That’s basically how the filmmaker introduced the film: to anyone living on the margins of society, live authentically to live a joyous life. I almost started crying (again) right then.

So I really can’t say enough good things about the film, except there’s always something :-P

While I thought every person in the film was well-intentioned with their comments and articulations of their experiences, there was one sentence, that once I heard it, I had difficult truly experiencing the rest of the film.

Kate Brown, Oregon’s Secretary of State and bisexual, was recalling the story of how one constituent asked her about being bisexual and what that meant (something along those lines). In response she said something like, Well I’ll tell you that I am monogamous and that’s more than the rest of the guys [politicians] around here could tell you! It was meant to be funny, and many people in the audience laughed.

A microaggression is a brief and subtle way of indicating hostility toward a group and asserting power and privilege over that group. Microaggressions come in many forms:
Women are just emotional.
You know your life will be hard if you are gay, right?
I can’t believe you speak English so well! [to an ethnic minority]
Or, like what my first therapist told me (several times) in response to hearing about our open relationship: You know he (J) could leave you if he met someone else, right?

Kate Brown, although well-intentioned, committed a microaggression (or maybe she did intend it). I think the most common stereotype of bisexual people is that they “all are nonmonogamous” and I could see her wanting to ward off any further stigma. In fact, when J and I introduced ourselves and J asked her a question about the experience of being out as bi but in a straight marriage, she again reiterated “but I am monogamous.” In person, it felt like information (albeit not relevant to the conversation we were trying to have); in the film, it was an aggression toward people who practice nonmonogamy.

Although I do think her statement was made in the context of highlighting cheating/unethical nonmonogamy, she still asserted monogamy as the moral and social preference over not being monogamous. It was difficult for me, from this point in the film on, to remember the filmmaker’s introduction: that this film, while made for the LGBTQ community, was meant to inspire anyone living on society’s margins to live authentically and out.

J and I are going to write to Kate Brown (of course we are!) and just tell her how her comment impacted us.

Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex

I am finally trying to get through a bunch of sexy books I bought over a year ago- I just finished one. And loved it (for the most part).

Sallie Tisdsale’s Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex is engaging, informative, and thought-provoking. It was published in the early 90s, and some of what is in there is a bit dated, but a lot of her philosophizing on gender, sexuality, orgasm, sex, and love still applies. I bookmarked so many pages because her poetic words captured feelings of my own. (The parts I didn’t love as much were sentences here and there that I found surprisingly gendered- sort of a men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus sentiments. Otherwise, it was a solid read!) I also really enjoyed the parts about the intersection between law and politics and sexuality (porn, prostitution, medical laws surrounding transgender surgery, religious influences, etc.).

The book is separated into four chunks, each with a few different essays on different topics: Desire (discussions of sex, the myth of Adam and Eve, sexual orientation), Arousal (discussions of porn, prostitution), Climax (discussions of erotica, orgasm), and Resolution (discussion of breaking taboos, BDSM, transsexuals and transgenders).

I bolded my favorite parts of quotes (sorry for how many there are!! can’t help myself). Some I added explanation to, while many I let stand on their own.

Favorites from Desire

One of her opening quotes that I loved:
“Sex is, truly, not important- that is, something we can cease worrying about- only to the extent that we look at sex and see it for what it really is, and nothing more” (p6).

“Now I can see I’d lost my virginity- and lost is not the right word at all, because I never went looking for it again- years before that, when someone or other had touched me in a way so pleasurable, I couldn’t wait to be touched that way again. Sex begins, for each of us, when we feel as though we’d gone through a door and won’t be going back. Don’t want to go back” (p 34).
I love that line: “because I never went looking for it again.” I’ve thought before about defining virginity as somehow “lost” or “gone” once one goes through puberty. Her description (“when we feel as though we’d gone through a door and won’t be going back”) feels accurate for me.

I think I have, too, been seduced by the idea of same-sex sex, under the idea that this other woman will be just like me and know exactly what I want. What a silly idea.
“I have at various times in my life been seduced by homosexuality, by the very idea of it, to the same degree and with a similar sexual charge. I want its possibilities, its infinite variations on a theme. Women I recognize; they are the familiar, the known, different patterns cut from one fabric. One and one combined into more than two, additive rather than diminutive. The fantasy of homosexuality isn’t about being completed; it’s about being increased. And this is as much fiction as reality, too” (p 66).

“All relations spark with conflict from the movement toward anyone outside ourselves, since all others are inevitably apart from us, separate, ultimately unknowable. For all the ease in female friendships, my romantic and sexual attractions, my romantic and sexual attractions toward women have never felt safe or bland or controlled. They are just as risky and terrifying and pregnant with possibility as any involvement with men” (p 67-8).

“We are all in search of balance, and evening out of things, and whether we seek in our lover the ‘other’ that is missing or the ‘self’ that we recognize, it is our selves with which we are stuck” (p70).

“I believe most people are bisexual to varying extents. This seems so obvious as to sound mundane…I believe we are all penetrable, we can all penetrate, we can all be top, bottom, masculine, feminine, up and down…When we describe what attracts us, we are usually thinking too narrowly, and forgetting where our loyalties in fact lie, who our lovers really are and what they look like and how little that matters.
The range should not be zero through six [referring to the Kinsey scale], but zero through six hundred, or six thousand…Perhaps there is one sexuality for each of us…” (p 76).
I think perhaps so!! One sexuality for each person. :)

“The more I watched pornography, the more layers peeled off my experience of lust, one layer after the other, because I didn’t always like my response. When something dark and forbidden emerges, I resist still. My body is sometimes provoked by what my mind reproves” (p 97).

Favorites from Arousal

“Even when I’m not bashful in the act of purchase [of porn], I’m bashful watching. I can feel that way with friends, with my lover of many years, and I can feel that way alone. Suddenly I need to shift position, avert my eyes. Sex awakens my unconscious; pornography gives it a face. Bashful is not a bad thing, either; I’m repeatedly reminded this way that sex holds, perpetually, a special place” (p 133).

I think her views on porn and anti-porn feminists are fascinating (she is very pro-porn):
“There is so much wrong with traditional pornography. It just plain disgusts me sometimes, with its juvenile assumptions, boring repetition, lack of depth. But as much as what is wrong with porn, I see what is right: In porn, sex is separated magically from reproduction, marriage, and the heterosexual couple, all of which most feminists would argue have been oppressive to women….
Women like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworking have allied themselves with a political camp that is also against reproductive choice, gay rights, and gender equality. Dworkin’s lurid antisex prose reads like arty dime-store pulp to me. She looks down on me and shakes her finger: Bad girl. Mustn’t touch. I’ve heard those words too many times before” (p 157-8).

I loved her essay on prostitution and sex work. She interviewed Samantha Miller, one of the co-directors of COYOTE (Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics, the oldest organization in the US for prostitutes and sex workers), and I love this passage:
” ” ‘Doing sex work is damaging,’ people say. ‘Giving all those blowjobs is damaging, it’s degrading.’ I think society’s attitude toward blowjobs it what’s degrading. Not the actual act,” says Samantha Miller. “My belief, and this is really a hard one for people to take, is that given economic equality for women-all things equal- there would still be women who would choose to do sex work, to call themselves prostitutes, to sell sex for money, however you want to say it.” ” (p 173)

She also interviews a young woman, Alex, who paid her way through college by being a prostitute. Alex’s points are right on:
” “To me, feminism is about choices for women, period…
I went to school with upper-middle-class self-identified feminist women who would argue with me in class about how prostitution contributed to the oppression of all women and how by participating in sex work I was furthering the oppression of women. Here I was, the only working-class kid in this whole classroom of upper-middle-class kids, and they were all going to tell me how horrible sex work was and how it was against feminism, and blah-blah. And it was, like, ‘Fuck you! Mommy and Daddy are paying for everything. I have nothing. Don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t do.’ ” ” (p183).

“Say ‘sex work’ to almost anyone outside the industry, and that person will hear the word ‘sex’; ‘work’ is a distant and seemingly unimportant echo. To look at sex work as work first can turn every assumption on its head.” (p 195)
I love this point; rarely do people consider sex work as work because of the simple fact that sexual energy is involved. But the same issues involved in any other kind of work are involved in sex work- customers, colleagues, reputation, safety, skill, etc.

“The urge to romanticize the prostitute and her life is just like the urge to imagine her as infinitely sordid or as an inevitable victim- more about us than the whore. The whore scares us, the happy whore most of all, because she doesn’t need conventional rules to survive and thrive. She makes up her own” (p 204).

I love her description of her fantasies (too long to type and include here)- but it is so similar to my own. Just snapshots of different images, without any real storyline or plot:
“Some images, which have gotten so fragmentary they hardly qualify as fantasy, are twisted and nasty, and some are postcard-romantic” (p 221).

“…dominance is really about cowardice and courage, our unwillingness and inability to let go completely for even a second, and our wish to be dominated by our wish. To have sexuality itself say to us: I know what you want, baby, and I’m going to give it to you” (p 222).
Mmm I just love this one. 

Favorites from Climax

“Penis envy is about something bigger, darker, more amorphous, more instructive than the body alone. We dress up in various symbolic ways to confuse and confound others into thinking we do have one after all, a real phallus- that is, power over others, potent and permanently erect… It’s [a penis] not as dangerous looking as a vagina, the most, dark cave out of which new people come, into which goes appetite, appetite almost ceaseless” (p 238-9).

“Adam fell when Eve fed him. Sex is food, and food is sex. Hunger leads to sin, and one solution is to eat again…” (p 252).
I like this one because of my own behavior and emotional patterns around touch, sex, and food. I notice that when I am craving touch, and find it hard to get, I overeat. I look for food to satisfy the desire for touch. Sex and touch and food are, somehow, intimately intertwined in my brain.

“Young [Wayland Young, author of Eros Denied] dislikes saying one ‘has sex’ because of the obscure and evasive meaning of ‘have.’ To have something is to possess it, and a sexual relationship is a kind of possession. It means possessing moments in time that are unique, irreducible, unrepeatable. It means having had a share of another’s surrender…To ‘have’ something is a passive state, static, and experience of being rather than doing. To fuck is to do…” (p 256).
I love the word “fuck.” So good.

“I catch myself talking about safe sex now and then, glibly, as though it had no psychic meaning. But for all the simplicity of latex, for all that protecting ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases is largely a matter of a few moments of forethought, there is a great price required. In the depth of sexual passion the skin of the other has the quality of treasure; the mundane secretions our bodies make are honey, manna, light. To be cut off from each other’s fluids is a terrible thing; our fluids are meant to mingle, we long for this mingling that is both so outrageous and so pure” (p 279-80).
When I first read this, I recoiled a little- a mixture of both my public health background and my own personal insecurities around giving up fluid-bonding as a measure of primacy in my own relationship (at some point, I am sure either J or I or both will have sex without condoms with another person, and I have come to recognize this as pretty inevitable. At one point in our open relationship, I used this fluid-bonding as a marker of our primary relationship, but it shouldn’t be. Our primary relationship is about life decisions and compatibility. And while safer sex is a big concern for both of us, when one of is seeing someone else long-term, I am sure it will come up as a desire for the people involved. And I am good with that.) And I think what Tisdale says is really accurate- there is a large part of my body and brain (and I’m sure for others as well) that craves the skin-on-skin, fluid-sharing part of sex. Also- the whole idea of “fluid-bonding” (at least in how I have approached it thus far in my open relationship) needs some improving. I have swallowed other men’s come, I have scissored with women, I have unprotected oral sex with men and women. There is fluid sharing there.

“Libido, to Freud, meant more than sexual energy, it mean energy, a life force, full of emotion. Reich took Freud’s theory of libido and expanded it: If individual sexual repression led to individual neurosis, then socialized sexual repression led to socialized neurosis. Sexually repressed cultures were violent cultures, despairing, tyrannical. Sexual freedom would lead naturally to socialism” (p 287). 

Favorites from Resolution

“When people complain about how ‘exploitive’ or ‘degrading’ something like a sex club is (having never been to one), they fail to acknowledge how terrible and exploitive marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family can be for millions of people; how painful and harmful are traditional gender roles for many people; how downright dangerous heterosexual, patriarchal culture is for all women. If radical sexuality works, if sex clubs, underground magazines, anarchic sex shows, and safe-sex education do what they aim to do, then a falling away will happen. Yes, as is feared, a crumbling of boundaries: between male and female, feminine and masculine, top and bottom, gay and straight. The center will not hold” (p 325)
I love the shivery, revolutionary feeling of this. I believe in this. 

“An erotic reality would be one in which everyone is connected to us, where there is no moral distinction between friend, lover, and stranger. Erotic reality doesn’t mean promiscuity, though promiscuity might occur; nor does it mean celibacy, though certainly celibacy would exist. Both, and everything in between, would be equivalent acts. An erotic vision is one of engagement in the lives and experiences of other people, embracing them as they are, and living fearlessly” (p 333).
I think, too, inherent in this statement is the idea that romantic love is not put on a pedestal, and seen in relation to and balanced by the the love we feel for other people in our lives. Romantic love wouldn’t be for just one person, necessarily, and it wouldn’t be seen as “better” than any other, but just a different kind of love.

“There is peace in the chaos of sex, because it is one place we can find each other in ourselves and our selves in each other” (p 337).

And from her closing paragraph; this also makes me feel strong and confident and revolutionary to read it:
“My personal sexual revolution will come when I do what I really want to do sexually, don’t do what I don’t want to do, let others do what they want to do, with a whole heart. It’s not how mundane or exotic our behavior is, but how wholehearted we are that counts. I want to be the agent of sex. I want to own sex, as though I had a right it, as though sex belonged to me, to us all. Sexual freedom in my life means forgetting about sex because sex is so much a part of me as a healthy human animal that I can hardly see it at all anymore…” (p 338).

Marriage Equality!!!

A big frickin’ WAHOO for marriage equality is Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota (and hopefully Washington!)! Thank goodness for progress in recognizing love can occur among any two people, and that those people should have the same benefits as hetero couples.

These victories are necessary. They also give me pause in reflecting on the institution of marriage, what it means for J and I, and what it means for the poly community.

It makes so much sense, and at the same time none at all, that the gay marriage movement threw poly families under the bus when working toward marriage equality for gay couples. J actually had a gay classmate tonight express the opinion that he thought the gay movement spent too much effort on “marriage” instead of relationship diversity and benefits for whoever your family is. I had one professor in my masters program that such rights would come with radical welfare reform, in which we could name a certain number of people as beneficiaries, regardless of their relationship to us. I think that’s a pretty rad idea, but like J, I am more of the opinion that we needed to change more perspectives on the emotional meaning of marriage before we could extend domestic partnership rights to more-than-two partnerships.

In fact, J and I were just discussing this yesterday with regards to marijuana legalization initiatives. Radicals usually have creative and innovative ideas. They are also dubbed “radicals” because they are the fringe and not the majority. More moderate thinkers are needed to bridge the divide. And so I understand from a political perspective that marriage rights for two-partner gay couples probably needs to come first before we can expect partnership rights for more-than-two configurations.